Heads of tertiary institutions and academic researchers in Africa are meeting in Accra to deliberate on providing regional and national data base systems to improve the management and access of African scholarly works.
The three-day international seminar organized by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in conjunction with other partners would also discuss policy guidelines that would clearly spell out the operations of such data systems, known as Institutional Repositories in Africa.
Professor Goolam Mohammedbhai, Secretary General of AAU said at the opening of the seminar on Monday that the AAU in 1998 saw the need to create a common platform to manage and disseminate theses and dissertations of African Universities electronically.
He said the AAU therefore, initiated a project dubbed; the Database on African Theses and Dissertation (DATAD) programme to, among other objectives, facilitate the development of copyright procedures and regulations to protect intellectual property rights of African university graduates and researchers.
Since 2003, Prof. Mohammedbhai said, 14,723 records had been received on
a similar database developed for the continent.
“There are over 700 registered users on the database with more than 60 institutions from 25 different countries and about 600 individuals from 65 countries using the database,” he added.
The Secretary-General therefore expressed the hope that with such facilities in every country, scholarly works in Africa would be further promoted.
Prof. Mohammedbhai also pledged AAU's commitment to technically support
all countries that wished to establish national repository centres.
Mr Alex Tettey-Enyo, Minister of Education, in a speech read on his behalf deplored lack of resources for research in Africa, despite its importance for development.
He therefore commended the initiative of AAU to create such data base systems that would make African research publications more accessible both to Africans themselves and the other continents.
Mr. Tettey-Enyo therefore proposed that national repositories should be further supported to exchange data among libraries at the national level.
Mr Paul Effah, Executive Secretary of the National Council of Tertiary Education, said the seminar was a wake up call to the intellectual community in Africa to use information communication technology to collect, preserve and disseminate information in view of recent challenges faced in running traditional libraries.
He called for incentives for graduates and researchers who come out with outstanding scholarly works in order to motivate more people to undertake research work.
The Consortium of Academic Research Libraries in Ghana and the Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands are assisting the AAU to organise the seminar.